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Ecological Knowledge, Leadership, and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales

Overview of attention for article published in Current Biology, March 2015
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (97th percentile)

Citations

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156 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
575 Mendeley
citeulike
1 CiteULike
Title
Ecological Knowledge, Leadership, and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales
Published in
Current Biology, March 2015
DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.037
Pubmed ID
Authors

Lauren J.N. Brent, Daniel W. Franks, Emma A. Foster, Kenneth C. Balcomb, Michael A. Cant, Darren P. Croft

Abstract

Classic life-history theory predicts that menopause should not occur because there should be no selection for survival after the cessation of reproduction [1]. Yet, human females routinely live 30 years after they have stopped reproducing [2]. Only two other species-killer whales (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) [3, 4]-have comparable postreproductive lifespans. In theory, menopause can evolve via inclusive fitness benefits [5, 6], but the mechanisms by which postreproductive females help their kin remain enigmatic. One hypothesis is that postreproductive females act as repositories of ecological knowledge and thereby buffer kin against environmental hardships [7, 8]. We provide the first test of this hypothesis using a unique long-term dataset on wild resident killer whales. We show three key results. First, postreproductively aged females lead groups during collective movement in salmon foraging grounds. Second, leadership by postreproductively aged females is especially prominent in difficult years when salmon abundance is low. This finding is critical because salmon abundance drives both mortality and reproductive success in resident killer whales [9, 10]. Third, females are more likely to lead their sons than they are to lead their daughters, supporting predictions of recent models [5] of the evolution of menopause based on kinship dynamics. Our results show that postreproductive females may boost the fitness of kin through the transfer of ecological knowledge. The value gained from the wisdom of elders can help explain why female resident killer whales and humans continue to live long after they have stopped reproducing.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 185 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 575 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 6 1%
United Kingdom 5 <1%
Germany 2 <1%
Senegal 1 <1%
South Africa 1 <1%
Switzerland 1 <1%
Netherlands 1 <1%
Mexico 1 <1%
Belgium 1 <1%
Other 5 <1%
Unknown 551 96%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 137 24%
Student > Ph. D. Student 112 19%
Student > Master 85 15%
Researcher 83 14%
Student > Postgraduate 22 4%
Other 82 14%
Unknown 54 9%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 297 52%
Environmental Science 60 10%
Psychology 34 6%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 26 5%
Social Sciences 23 4%
Other 54 9%
Unknown 81 14%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 632. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 29 March 2021.
All research outputs
#17,929
of 17,373,814 outputs
Outputs from Current Biology
#172
of 11,834 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#241
of 222,094 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Current Biology
#4
of 188 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,373,814 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,834 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 47.9. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 222,094 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 188 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.